Updated on 09/15/2011 12:30PM

Mother Goose serious stuff

NYRA/Adam Coglianese
Two Item Limit will shoot for her third straight win Saturday in the Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y - Two Item Limit's first foray into the deep waters of the 3-year-old filly division did not work out well. In two Grade 1 events in Southern California, Two Item Limit was no match for Golden Ballet, who even in retirement is regarded as this division's leader.

On the East Coast, however, Two Item Limit has taken care of business quite nicely, winning her last four graded events, albeit without facing the East's elite. She will get the opportunity to vault to the top of the East Coast standings Saturday when she faces nine rivals in a strong renewal of the Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park.

Among those lined up to face Two Item Limit in the $250,000 race run at nine furlongs are Ashland winner Fleet Renee, Acorn winner Forest Secrets, Fantasy winner Mystic Lady, Fair Grounds Oaks winner Real Cozzy, and Bonnie Miss winner Tap Dance.

"I think at this point, she needs to prove herself against the best," said Stephen DiMauro, trainer of Two Item Limit, who drew post 2. "It comes at a good time. She's coming into the race real good."

When she returned from California, Two Item Limit won the Grade 3 Comely by disqualification after Mandy's Gold came in a step, forcing Two Item Limit to check in midstretch. DiMauro opted to skip the Kentucky Oaks because his filly needs more time between races. DiMauro's patience was rewarded when Two Item Limit romped to a two-length victory in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico.

Two Item Limit had five weeks between the Comely and the Black-Eyed Susan and has six weeks leading up to this race. "She does well with time between races and I want to continue to do that," DiMauro said.

With the defection of Flute due to a bruised foot, Ashland winner Fleet Renee will likely be sent off the favorite in the Mother Goose. Fleet Renee knocked off Golden Ballet in the Grade 1 Ashland, her fourth consecutive victory after losing her debut at Aqueduct. Sent off at 8-5 in the Kentucky Oaks, Fleet Renee finished a disappointing fourth behind Flute.

Trainer Michael Dickinson said Fleet Renee came back blowing, but not necessarily from fatigue. Dickinson indicated the blowing was from "some form of stress. Something wasn't quite right. She's been training all right."

The 3-year-old filly division welcomed a new addition to its upper crust when Forest Secrets won the Grade 1 Acorn on June 8 at odds of 50-1. She was making just her third start of her career and battled back after losing lead to Victory Ride inside the eighth pole. She must duplicate that effort against an even stronger field while facing equal if not more pace pressure than in the Acorn. "I didn't feel she was stopping or getting tired," assistant trainer Donna Ward said of the Acorn. "The fact she came back and galloped out strong and her pedigree indicates she could go longer."

Since Chris McCarron has commitments that would prohibit him from staying with Forest Secrets later in the year, Ward has turned to Jorge Chavez to ride Forest Secrets Saturday.

Forest Secrets figures to face pressure from Zonk and either of Mark Hennig's two fillies, Mystic Lady or Tap Dance. A solid pace will benefit Two Item Limit, Fleet Renee, Real Cozzy, and Exogenous.

Real Cozzy won the first three races of her career, including the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks. She bombed in the Grade 2 Fantasy, but trainer Dan Peitz said a chronic back problem resurfaced after the race. Real Cozzy redeemed herself with a solid second in the Kentucky Oaks before finishing a late-running third in the Acorn.

The extra furlong of the Mother Goose should help, although Peitz said, "I wish it was a two-turn race, but I can't do anything about that."

The Scotty Schulhofer-trained Exogenous could be a live a longshot. A daughter of Unbridled, Exogenous makes her stakes debut after winning three straight races.

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